Thursday, December 16, 2004

Apple #12: Blueberries

I bought some blueberry Pop-Tarts today. They were delicious. They got me thinking about blueberries themselves.

(Photo of blueberries from Food and Faith)

  • Wild blueberries grow only in North America.

  • The blossom end of each berry is called the calyx, which in the blueberry's case forms the shape of a five-pointed star.

  • One of the crops that were key to the survival of the early settlers from England in the New World was blueberries.

  • The blueberry family (Vaccinium) includes 450 different plants. One of these plants is the wild blueberry, or lowbush. Cultivated blueberries are generally referred to as highbush blueberries.

  • The USDA ranked wild blueberries as highest in antioxidant capacity per serving, over more than 20 other fruits. This means that wild blueberries may be the most helpful fruit in protecting against cancer, heart disease, and chronic diseases such as Alzheimer's or urinary tract infections.

  • Blueberry plants require highly acidic soil. This means if you want to grow them in your backyard, you have to heap on the "organic matter" and sulfur to alter the pH.

  • The bushes have very shallow roots and require at least 1 to 2 inches of water per week.

  • It takes six years before a blueberry bush will bear fruit.

  • Blueberry bushes are susceptible to damage from at least four types of insects (one which feeds exclusively on blueberries), and six types of diseases like mildew and spots. One of the diseases that attacks blueberries is called mummy berry.

  • Over 42,000 metric tons of blueberries are harvested worldwide each year. 90% come from the US and Canada.

  • Half the harvest goes to processing plants, and the other half are sold fresh. Those that will be processed are picked by machine. Berries that you buy from the store or the roadside stand have all been hand-picked.

This blueberries were all hand-picked
(Photo from Kentucky Proud)

Wild Blueberries
US Highbush Blueberry Council
OSU Extension Fact Sheet "Growing Blueberries in the Home Garden"

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